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Assess risk
awardprogram articles - ask the experts 15th Sep 02

What is the first thing you look for when you visit an applicant's site?

picture of two website pages

The first thing that I look for is confirmation that an applicant's site actually qualifies for evaluation. Most programs have some criteria which sites must meet before an evaluation will commence. Some call this "disqualification criteria." Others may refer to it in friendlier terms, but the effect is the same. If elements are or are not present within the applicant's site, then the full evaluation process will not commence.

It is all too easy to be seduced by a site that uses the latest technology and has the most enticing of entrances. However, not all such sites ( and there are many ) will necessarily fall within the scope of my criteria. To prevent an unnecessarily long evaluation process, I take out a copy of the criteria that an applicant's site must meet ( neatly printed on A4 paper ) and go through each item to ensure it qualifies for further evaluation.

I must stress that there is a great distinction to be made between the first thing I look for and the first thing I see. On entering an applicant's site, the first thing I see is the entrance page. This is extremely important to remember, for first impressions do count.

A first page that stimulates and caresses the senses will always be viewed favourably if the site qualifies for further evaluation. Naturally, the site will be evaluated strictly in accordance with my specific criteria, but it may find itself reaping the benefit of that part of the criteria which allows for a greater degree of subjectivity on my part.

On the other hand, a site that does not fall afoul of disqualification criteria may find that any garish colours, enormous fonts and annoying animations on the first page have already left an indelible mark.

In short, the first thing I look for is that the applicant's site meets my basic criteria, but an enticing entrance is a valuable asset which may favourably influence the outcome of my evaluation process.

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